Lost-Foam Casting

Quick video showing the basics of a lost-foam casting process.

Foundry materials are from Lost & Foundry.

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CNC Digitizing

Quick tutorial on using the Tormach Digitizing Probe and Mach3 to digitize a part.  Blender, a free software, is used along with a couple Python scripts to enable the digitization.  Enjoy!

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Importing Points to Blender

This code is a script for importing points from the Mach3 Digitize Wizard to the Blender Environment. The code below should be copy and pasted into the Blender “Scripting” Window. Once pasted the path needs to be changed in the code. This path should point to your own digitized points file.


import bpy #import the blender module

############ PLEASE SPECIFY YOUR PATH AND FILE FOR DIGITIZING DATA ###################
#path='Insert Path here' eg 'C:\Users\Me\Documents\DigitizingData\Mydata.txt'
path='C:\\text.txt'

######################################################################################

#Open the file
try:
    f=open(path, 'r')
except:
    print ("Path is not Valid")

#Create an array of vertices
ve=[]
for line in f: #Go through file line by line
    try:
        read=f.readline().split(',') #Read a line, split it on the comma
        ve.extend( [float(read[0]), float(read[1]), float(read[2])] ) #Extend the array
    except:
        print ("Could not use the line reading: %s"%read)

# Create a new mesh, it is now empty
mesh = bpy.data.meshes.new("Cube")

# Create empty vertices field in the mesh
mesh.vertices.add(len(ve)/3)

# Add vertices
mesh.vertices.foreach_set("co", ve)

#Add a new empty object named "My Digitized Data"
obj = bpy.data.objects.new("My Digitized Data", mesh)

# Link object to current scene
bpy.context.scene.objects.link(obj)

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Solder Reflow Oven Controller Enclosure Box

The solder reflow oven controller is nearly finished.  The previous post showed the milling the circuit board, now the enclosure box has been finished.

The design consists of an Arduino Uno R3 microcontroller which monitors the temperature of the oven, turns on and off the oven and also controls the venting of the oven.

 

 

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Double-Sided Printed Circuit Board

A printed circuit board was designed by David Cannistraro.  The circuit is used for control of a toaster oven converted into a solder reflow oven.  Once finished the circuit will control the heating/cooling of the oven while monitoring temperature inside.  Milling sequences were output from CopperCam, but the layout could also be done with the free Eagle PCB Layout software and a gcode sequence could be built with something like the free pcb-gcode software.

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Mill Enclosure (Work in Progress)

Months have gone into the production of an enclosure for the Tormach PCNC 770 mill and robot.  The goal of the project was 1) enclose the mill for safety purposes (also keeps chips off the floor) 2) Make a stand for the robot 3) Make the robot moveable into the mill area so it could be used solo or simultaneously with the mill.

The design was first modeled in Pro/Engineer software.  80/20 aluminum extrusion was chosen for the build, due to its flexibility and ease of connecting.

The next step was to order all the hardware.  The total was roughly $1800.  Most of the cost was in the little brackets/connection pieces and bolts.    80/20 Parts List for enclosure

Once all the supplies arrived, the question was where to start?  It began by framing up door panels (Mainly because I was most excited to get the bi-fold door in working order). Howard (another U of Iowa grad student) offered to help.  I put a drill in his hands and I took pictures while he worked.  Good help is hard to find :)  A few unforeseen hangups, but overall the main frame went together easily.

The main frame was completed so it was now time to move to the robot stand.  The robot stand started working from the bottom up.  The goal was to ensure the stand cleared over the mill bed when finished.  This allows the robot to be wheeled in and out of the enclosure.

The current objectives are moving all the computer components and the e-stop to the outside of the enclosure.  Tormach sent a remote e-stop for the outside of the enclosure.  The monitor mount needed to be slightly modified to attach to the aluminum extrusion.  The monitor and keyboard have living hinges to allow the user to adjust the location of both the keyboard and monitor.

The keyboard will be mounted in the near future.  To be continued…



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Joe’s Dice

Joe Schmitz, an undergrad mechanical engineering student at the University of Iowa has been working a with the Tormach mill.  He created a few dice on the machine.

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Enclosure for Tormach

I have been busy designing an enclosure for the Tormach mill.  Originally I designed a single-hinge swinging door for the enclosure, but I have worked on mills with a swinging door before.  It seems once the door is covered in coolant and/or chips it always rests on your back when you are inside the mill changing out parts.  It becomes a mess on your clothes.  The new design uses a bi-fold door, which maximizes the access room without dealing with a large swinging door.

A cart/stand for the robot has also been designed.  This design allows for the controller to sit near the ground.  The cart has four casters that allow easy movement.  The enclosure and cart have been designed to allow the cart to wheel into the mill space without colliding with the bed.  Once assembled it should be easy to fix some locating pins to ensure the robot can be indexed in the same location in the mill.

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Engraving Logo

For a demo the Tormach mill was used engrave 1.7″ diameter x 1/8″ coins with the University of Iowa seal.

Tool:  engraving cutter  (1/8 x 1-1/2 half round 90 deg)
Depth of cut: .005″
Spindle Speed: 8500 RPM
Feedrate: 18 ipm
Cycle Time: 4 mins 21 secs

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Visit from St. Ambrose University

Dr. Jodi Prosise and Dr. Mike Opar from the engineering department at St. Ambrose University came to visit and take a look around the Tormach Mill today. It was good experience to bounce back ideas about curriculum and hands-on CNC labs.  The Tormach machine seemed like a perfect fit for a CNC teaching tool with the limited lab space they have available.  I look forward to a potential collaboration with St. Ambrose University.

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